After operating out of numerous locations around Juneau, the Southeast Alaska Food Bank has opened its doors at a new, permanent location.
"This is long overdue," said Ritchie Sonner, chair of the food bank board of directors. "We've been so transient for so long. It's just nice to feel like we're here. We're home. It's very exciting."
The new space, measuring about 40 by 25 feet, is at 10020 Crazy Horse Drive off Industrial Boulevard. The move-in effort began about three weeks ago, manager Tor Dahl said.
City and health inspections were completed last week and doors opened for the first time on Tuesday.
"We're pretty much finished moving in," Dahl said. "We have a little more clean up work to do ... We have a storage van we're going to bring in to help us store some of the extra stuff we use for our charity drives."
Five agencies picked up food on Tuesday, Dahl said.
The food bank has been closed for the last two and a half months, Dahl said. Use of a temporary location in Lemon Creek ended in early April.
In the interim, volunteer organizations such as the Salvation Army have had to rely on stored supplies, government programs and random personal donations for assistance, said Maj. Larry Fankhauser, commanding officer for the Salvation Army in Juneau.
"Now that they're back open, it's going to be a big help for us (and) for all agencies," Fankhauser said. "It'll be a tremendous asset for us to try to keep our food bank stocked so we can meet those requests as they come in through the door and do a more complete job."
The food bank's new metal-framed building was donated by Roy Geist, Dahl said. A large group of volunteers, including the United Way, the Southeast Alaska Guidance Association, which provides service jobs for youths, and representatives from local businesses, helped support the food bank and complete construction.
"There were so many different supporters and community members in all of these donated spaces, and in making this building a reality," Sonner said.
A grand opening and celebration will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Aug. 12.
Although the food bank's location is new, its donation needs remain the same, Dahl said. Items such as peanut butter, jam, flour, sugar and canned goods - especially canned corn - are still in high demand.
Agencies are charged 14 cents per pound when they pick up food, to pay agency dues and cover the food bank's operating expenses, Dahl said.
"The food itself is free to individuals when the agencies distribute it out," Dahl said. "The idea is still to feed people for free, and the agencies are the only ones that pay to help keep us running."
In the future, a free giveaway of perishable food items to individuals will take place on Saturday mornings, Dahl said. He expects the program to be up and running in several weeks.
Genevieve Gagne-Hawes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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